Monday, February 11, 2013

For Faith and Friendship

For Faith and Friendship, edited by Fisher Humphreys, T. J. Mashburn, and Richard F. Wilson. Covington, Louisiana: Insight Press, 2010. ISBN: 9780914520528.

For Faith and Friendship is the story of twelve Baptist theologians who met three times a year for several years. In these meeting they discussed theology and related matters. The group was called the "Trinity Group" because "of the importance of the Trinitarian understanding of God for Christian theology. Each member of the group wrote one chapter. The chapters are mostly autobiographical. Some of the members of the group are Fisher Humphreys, T. J. Mashburn, J. Bradley Creed, Ralph C. Wood, and others. The book was dedicated to one of the founding members of the group, Philip Wise. Wise died in the Spring of 2009.

One of the consistent themes in this book is the journey of faith. Each of the chapters depict how the author changed over time. For example, Mashburn writes how he lost his faith to regain it. He really didn't lose his faith, but he shows how his faith changed over time. Mashburn was warned before he left the United States to study in Europe to be careful he didn't lose his faith. He says what he lost was the 'slam dunk' "approach to reading and understanding the Bible. This is the view that interprets the Bible in very literal ways, with little or no regard for any factors (for example, etymology, historical context, literary genre) save the words themselves" (73). I enjoyed reading this chapter since I studied under Mashburn when I was a librarian at the University of Mobile. He was a wonderful teacher and he followed the Socratic method of teaching. He was also a humble man who had a great interest in hermeneutics. Mashburn summarizes his main point" "Losing your faith is really about being honest with God, others, and yourself. It is a filtering process in which some beliefs/practices are celebrated, others discarded, and still others revised and developed" (80). This summarizes the theme of the journey of faith that is present in other chapters.

Two other chapters I would like to mention are Dwight A. Moody's essay on encountering C.S. Lewis a second time and Ralph Wood's essay that presents G. K. Chesterton as a Christian Humanist. Moody tells how after several years elapsed of not reading Lewis he found him again. Much of the essay describes this journey and how he began to teach a course on C. S. Lewis. He spends much of the essay on showing how some of Lewis's best writings is contained In the Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis edited by Walter Hooper. Wood argues that the answer for our time is to discover the Christian Humanism of G. K. Chesterton. Wood too writes about his spiritual journey, but most of his essay is dedicated to explicating the Christian Humanism of G. K. Chesterton. Wood has recently published a book on Chesterton. He has also written a popular book on Flannery O'Connor.

For Faith and Friendship show how our Christian faith develops. It does not stay the same. It also teaches about the importance of friendship. Moody shows how C. S. Lewis thought that friendship was one of God's best gifts.

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